Gore to give TV a good rating

V-chip useful to parents, study finds

WASHINGTON — Vice President Gore is scheduled today to trumpet the completion of the first TV season with a program-content ratings system by releasing a new survey showing that parents are using the content codes to supervise their kids’ viewing habits.

The survey, conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that parents do find the ratings system helpful, and that parents are not likely to buy a TV set just because it comes equipped with a so-called V-chip. However, if a set does have a V-chip, parents will use it, according to the survey.

The survey also found:

  • 54% of parents with kids ages 2-17 have used the ratings system;

  • 45% have stopped a kid from watching a show because of its rating;

  • 93% of parents find it very or somewhat useful.

Beginning July 1, 1999, 50% of the TVs sold in the U.S. must come equipped with the V-chip. The remaining TV sets must be equipped with V-chip technology by Jan. 1, 2000. The regulation applies only to those sets with screens 13 inches wide and larger.

The computer chip will be able to read a show’s specific content rating, which will be encoded in the TV station’s or cable network’s transmission. Parents will be able to program V-chipped sets to block shows based on their rating.

In addition to parents, the survey found that kids are using the TV rating system. Girls tend to use the system to steer clear of potentially objectionable material, but boys use the content code to locate those same kinds of shows, say sources who have seen the survey.

An Associated Press survey released earlier this year found that 43% of parents were already using the TV ratings system. The ratings system combines age-based recommendations on viewing specific programs with descriptions of the actual content in a particular show.

For example, a show rated TV-14 LSD is a show that is recommended for kids 14 years of age and older because of its adult language, sexual situations and risqué dialogue.